"The Public Hospital for Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds", later known as Eastern State Hospital, was America's first public mental health facility, established in 1773 in Williamsburg, Virginia. By 1935 Eastern State Hospital housed some 2000 patients with no more land for expansion. The restoration of Colonial Williamsburg and the Williamsburg Inn surrounded the facility with a thriving tourist trade. It is said that, on one of his frequent strolls through the restored town he helped finance, philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. happened to pass by Eastern State and introduce himself to an inmate out for a walk around the grounds. Upon hearing Rockefeller’s name, the inmate is said to have replied “Oh sure – and I’m Napoleon Bonaparte.” The hospital’s location and space issues made a move become necessary. Between 1937 and 1968, all of Eastern State’s patients were moved to a new facility on the outskirts of Williamsburg, Virginia, where it continues to operate today.
In 1985, the original hospital was rebuilt on its excavated foundations by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and now operates as a museum.